Pioneer Park, in San Diego, has a rich history as an abandoned cemetery that was reborn by the city as a public park. An estimated 4,000 Bodies still remain interred under the lush green grass and ancient looking trees that adorn the property. Many local paranormal researchers consider the park very haunted. It is used as the usual monthly meeting spot for a San Diego Ghost and Paranormal (SDGaP) meetup group, a regular stop for paid haunted tour groups, and a highly trafficked investigation area for local paranormal groups such as SPIRIT, San Diego Paranormal Eye, and San Diego Haunted. The park is a great location to walk a dog, let kids run and play, or enjoy some quiet time. Two memorials at the park give visitors awareness of the lands use as a cemetery. The lesser obvious of the two memorials consists of several metal plaques imbedded in concrete. The second and more obvious memorial is a path of several rows of grave markers and tombstones. A large colorful mural also adorns the west wall of Grant Elementary School and acts as a property marker between the school and park. The mural is an artistic tribute to Pioneer park, and was a group effort by Artist Elizabeth Washburn and the Mission Hills community in
An unexpected black painted figure with simulated red blood (paint) for the initials J.T.R (figure 1) appeared near center on the mural sometime in 2010 and has remained ever since. Local Paranormal researcher D.G. believes he may know the answer. “Amazingly it was pretty simple to figure out. I googled the initials J.T.R and found Jack The Ripper. I continued to Google images of J.T.R and found an interesting screen capture from a theatrical adaptation of Jack The Ripper (figure 2). It is very clear whoever painted the figure on the Pioneer park mural is leaving a macabre calling card as Jack The Ripper.” This may not be the last time visitors to San Diego Parks will see J.T.R. explains DG., “Upon reviewing paranormal evidence from Presidio Park I came across an odd photo (figure 3) of the same J.T.R figure outlined in chalk. After further review I came to the conclusion the figure at Presidio Park was perfectly reversed. Someone is using a template to recreate the figure in its exactness ” Whether or not the artist is the same or a copycat is yet to be determined. As of now J.T.R. is a permanent fixture at Pioneer Park.
Macabre graffiti isn’t the only oddity at work in Pioneer Park, mystic looking symbols written in charcoal have appeared on the back of “Cave Johnson Couts” tombstone (figure 4). According to the San Diego History Center, ” Cave Johnson Couts (1821-1874) was an accomplished military man and graduate from Westpoint. On April 5, 1851, he married Ysidora Bandini, daughter of the famous San Diegan Juan Bandini. Couts died at the Horton House, in San Diego, June 10 1874. He was over six feet tall, perfectly straight, and weighed 165 pounds. He was a man of good education, strict integrity, and gentlemanly manners.” B. Westen of San Diego Haunted explains, “There are two separate questions that need to be addressed of these symbols. one, what do the symbols represent? and two, what is the connection between these markings and Cave Johnson Couts? The symbols appear to be a combination of Germanic Runes and possibly Magical symbols.” Tracy L. of San Diego Paranormal Eye Investigations believes, “The symbols are Germanic Runes. The First Rune is for protection, the second is for ceremony, third to win, and fourth the world.” Both B. Westen and Tracy L. agree that the symbols are likely a legitimate message and not random graffiti. Whether it be the Macabre Painted J.T.R on the mural at the park or mystical symbols on the back of the tombstone monument, Pioneer park seems to have piqued the interest of not just everyday park goers.How many more sinister secrets lie awaiting this beautiful historic park.